Brussels, Belgium

(Click here for more photographs.)

The official founding of Brussels is usually considered to be 979.  The town grew rapidly and extended towards the upper town (higher ground) where there is a smaller risk of floods.  In 1225 work began on the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.  The Grand Place was where Brussels traditionally conducted its business.  In 1407, they began construction of the City Hall at this location and eventually, the square was filled with a variety of Guild Halls representing all of the trades.

Grand Place

In 1695, during the Nine Years’ War, French King Louis XIV sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery.  Together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels.  Most of the Grand Place was destroyed (with the exception of the City Hall) along with 4,000 buildings.  The Guild Halls were all rebuilt within five years, an impressive accomplishment. Continue reading

Barcelona, Spain

(Click here for more photographs.)

Once again, we began our visit to Barcelona with a walking tour.  We were told that Romans founded the city in 38 B.C.  In the first 200 years they built a walled city that defined the boundaries of Barcelona for the next 1600 years!  During this time they had to build higher since they could not build out, given that they could not extend the city beyond the walls.  Not until the mid-1850’s did they break out of their medieval walls.  People were dying very young from disease caused by the overcrowding.  Previously unknown engineer Ildefons Cerda created a plan for the expanded city that turned out to be extraordinarily visionary ultimately leading to him being credited as having defined “urbanization”.

Barcelona is part of Catalonia, an “autonomous community” in the northeast corner of Spain.  It is also referred to as a nationality for the people in this region who for centuries have been agitating for the creation of an independent state for Catalonia.  Before the 18th century it was a principality of the Crown of Aragon with its own language.  Today, Catalan, along with Spanish is the official language of this region.

Barcelona waterfront Continue reading

Cincinnati, OH

(Click here for more photographs.)

We stayed in an area on the north side of Cincinnati called Winton Woods, specifically in the Winton Woods County Park.  It’s a beautiful park with a large lake, large forested areas and ample walking/biking paths.  The campground here was very nice, too.

Downtown Cincinnati

We spent one day exploring a little bit of downtown Cincinnati, mostly around the Riverfront area.  With the Bengal’s Paul Brown Stadium on one side and the Cincinnati Red’s Great American Ball Park on the other, the Smale Riverfront Park is a very inviting outdoor space for all ages.  From the park you can also access the remarkable John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge which spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Covington, KY.  When this beautiful bridge was opened in 1866, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge at 1,057 feet.  The next project for the designer of this bridge, John A. Roebling was the Brooklyn Bridge.

Next stop:  Hocking Hills State Park